• Kyodo

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Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has told customers that delivery of the new Mitsubishi Regional Jet might be delayed for a fifth time starting in mid-2018, sources said.

The subsidiary owned 64 percent by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. might delay initial delivery of Japan’s first domestically produced passenger jet because of technical problems, a source familiar with the matter said Saturday.

That would be the MRJ’s fifth delay. Any subsequent design changes could force Mitsubishi Aircraft to review production plans and lead to a substantial delay in the plane’s delivery, though manufacturing operations have already started.

Last December the company put off initial delivery by a year to mid-2018 because it wanted more testing time to strengthen the wing design.

The rumor comes after the MRJ’s arrival at its test-flight base in the United States on Wednesday after two attempts to reach Grant County International Airport in Washington state were aborted due to air-conditioning problems.

The jetliner, which seats 70 to 90 passengers, is designed for short- to medium-haul flights and consumes 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized aircraft.

It made its maiden flight last November in Japan.

Launch customer ANA Holdings Inc., the parent of All Nippon Airways Co., has ordered up to 25 MRJs.

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